Will you carry me

At a time when spring is approaching and the daylight hours are gradually expanding, it is tempting to dream of the reappearance of the waterman. A tall, strong man who knows the ford, who picks you up like a child, protects you from splashes, lifts you for a moment out of the world and sets you down on a cool bank. This slightly disconcerting abduction comes to the rescue of all kinds and all ages. Kidnapping, initiation, transgression. You only have to ask. When you think about it, there is something quite strange about this practice that no longer exists, this magnificent lifting up that, literally, takes you beyond your dreams.

There seemed to be fewer and fewer Saint Christophers, Tristans and Saint Julian the Hospitallers, consigned to the role of supporting characters in fairy tales. But then Bruno Dumont made them unexpectedly real, in his film Ma Loute. In order that the wealthy burghers of Tourcoing can get to their beach, the poor fishermen of Wissant have to carry them across lagoons. At this moment there is something of a quiet redemption when the two social classes meet, when taffeta comes into contact with serge, when, paradoxically, the needy support the rich, in a fervent uplifting that leads them both, the tired carrier and the flustered person carried, to dry land. These unexpected human alliances, struggling to make it across the water and conjuring up glimpses of Hydras and Tritons, took you to shore when you were fed up with waiting.

This supportive function authenticates our experience of spring, that sensory conveyance via the daring toll, that crossing in the face of countercurrents and opaque alliances, to the other side, toward the imperious arrival of warmer days that will make us euphoric.

And the child, hardly has he been lifted from the shoulders of the good giant, the future Christophorus, whispers this simple piece of advice for his return journey: “Place your staff in the earth by the house, and tomorrow it will bear flowers and fruit.”